A night in the archaeological museum in Amsterdam


CleopatraEach year in the beginning of November, there is Museum Night in Amsterdam; when museums, usually open only during daytime, have special evening programs.

Last year, I was in the Vincent van Gogh museum, and National museum.

This year, I was in the archaeological Allard Pierson Museum.

There were lectures on various subjects.

Including museum objects which can’t stand sunlight, and counterfeit objects.

The Allard Pierson Museum has about 16,000 objects.

Only some 8,000 of those are on view for the visitors (in many other museums, this proportion is even smaller).

One of the reasons why the Allard Pierson museum does not show all its objects is that some of them would get damaged from long exposure to sunlight.

These include Coptic Christian textile from Egypt.

So, the Allard Pierson Museum’s collection of those textiles is usually hidden from visitors.

The museum also has some counterfeited Coptic textile objects, often made in Egypt today, in its collection, to teach students of archaeology at Amsterdam university the difference between true and false objects.

Roman glass is also often counterfeited today.

Research of radioactivity of objects may help in establishing whether an object is genuine.

The museum also had a “murder mystery tour”.

Visitors had to find out who had committed a certain murder in antiquity, and with which weapon.

Actors impersonating five notorious murderers from antiquity were present in the museum, to be questioned by visitors.

They were: Cleopatra, the last ruler of independent Egypt in antiquity.

Paris, prince of Troy.

Heracles, who had to perform twelve heroic tasks after murdering his family in a fit of insanity.

Due to lack of male actors, an actress played Heracles. Not completely wrong, as Heracles, according to legend, commanded to do so when he was the slave of queen Omphale, did women’s tasks like spinning and wore women’s clothes.

Also, princess Medea of argonaut fame.

Finally, Livia, the wife of Augustus, the first emperor of Rome.

It turned out that the murder mystery’s solution was the killing by Cleopatra of her brother and rival to the throne with an Egyptian magical knife, supposed to protect babies from harm.

Like in the antiquities museum in Leiden, such a knife is present in the Allard Pierson Museum.

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